Business owners address city, Caledonia citizens

To the Editor:

Recently a Caledonia downtown building was purchased, after being on the market only a week, simply because it was cheap and with no plans of using the commercial space. The odds of this commercial space being occupied in the next handful of months now look to be improving, but until the space is filled, it joins the ever-growing list of vacant commercial spaces in our downtown, all empty for a number of reasons: some understandably, and others without good reason. If our commercial buildings continue to get purchased by people who have no intention of supporting the business district, then our business district will not last. Allowing this to happen:

– Discourages new businesses from investing in downtown

– Eliminates viable options for space

– Decreases the property values of surrounding properties

– Creates an on-street parking problem with building residents and their guests occupying potential customer spaces

– Gives the impression that the city is not committed to fostering a thriving downtown

– Hinders the downtown’s ability to be aesthetically maintained as a retail destination

As current Caledonia business owners, we are investing our livelihood (and blood, sweat, and tears) into this community. But to be able to continue, we need your support. Our businesses can’t sustain themselves or grow without a thriving business district and community. Our downtown can’t turn into a thriving business district without new businesses coming in and staying. And new businesses can’t open up unless there are viable commercial spaces available.

We are approaching the Caledonia Economic Development Authority for their assistance in taking action to reverse the trend of empty storefronts (which will take much work from many angles), but we also need your help as community members. Without your support, it is difficult for any real change to happen. Here’s what you can do to help:

– Take notice of the current downtown district situation, and start conversations with your family, friends, and neighbors. Talk about what you think Caledonia needs to help it thrive, and seriously think about what you can do to pitch in and make it happen.

– Let our city officials know how important it is to you to have a thriving downtown.

– If someone you know has a business idea that you think would benefit Caledonia, encourage them! Sometimes a little support is all that is necessary to make a dream into reality.

-Take notice of current businesses and building owners, including those outside of the downtown area, that are doing good things for the community, and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. The more we encourage community involvement, the better!

– Join volunteer community groups who are working hard to better our community: the Streetscapes committee (downtown beautifying projects), Neighbors in Action (assisting the elderly and disabled), and Community Spirit Caledonia (providing fun projects for kids), to name just a few.

Aimee Welscher, Mary Ann’s Floral & Gifts

Carolyn Gaustad, CPA

Susan Klug, Caledonia Bakery

Jeremiah & Amanda Ninneman, The Wired Rooster

Steve Bauer, Caledonia Lumber

Kelly Meyer, Keller Williams Realty

Jim Jennings, Caledonia True Value

Robert Frank, B & M Service

Tom Bjerke, Thrivent Financial

Greg Hoscheit, SmoothToe & Lifestyle Fitness

Jim Hoscheit, Miken Sports

Doug Nack, Printy Quik

Eric & Sara Cordes, Buckboard & The Farmhouse

Mary & John Hauser, The Farmhouse

Brenda Johnson, Main Attractions

Naaren Kingsley, Caledonia Veterinary Clinic

Kris Wedl, Good Times Restaurant & Bar

Penny Mormann, Country Charm & Crafts

Polly Heberlein, The Pine Cone Place

Chuck Ellingson, Ellingson Motors

Timothy Buswell, State Farm Insurance

Ralph Burg, Caledonia Wheel Alignment

Elsie Babler, Elsie’s Bar & Grill

Priyesh Amin, Ma Cal Grove Golf Course

Julia Crawford Ingvalson, Pawsh Pets

David Pieper, Mutual of Omaha & The Caledonia Inn

Betsy Pieper, Betsy’s B&B & The Caledonia Inn

Nancy Cordes, Nancy’s Solutions

Ann Schmitz & Tamiko Steele, Tamiko’s Salon

Geoff & Stephanie Mell, Mell Chiropractic

Dianne Schuldt

Jane Schiltz

Caledonia, Minnesota